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Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity by Jim Palmer



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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Jim Palmer

Wednesday, November 24

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped.
—Psalm 28:7


Any home repair that can't be fixed with duct tape, a sharp pen, dull knife, and scissors means I’m in trouble. I wasn't born with the handyman gene. Which is why it was extremely odd that I recently decided to replace our broken garbage disposal. After many hours, several trips to Home Depot, and a multitude of words my publisher would never allow in any of my books, I finally finished the job!

Unfortunately it leaks. I guess I should have paid more attention to the configuration of all those PVC pipes before I disassembled them. Are you supposed to have pieces left over? My creation looked like Disney's Space Mountain...with a leak.

I normally walk my dog Jack early in the morning while it’s still dark. The next morning after my repair debacle, there was a clear sky with a bright moon and stars. I'd been feeling disconnected from God lately and began a conversation with him about my feelings. I told God I felt empty inside. 

He reminded me this wasn't true and that his life and kingdom were present and available within me. I went on and shared how separated I felt from him. Once again, he pointed out this was an illusion of my making because there was nothing that could ever separate me from God.

I insisted there must be something I must do to resolve this spiritual disconnect I felt. He responded that there was no disconnect and therefore there was nothing for me to do. He invited me to rest in his love. I continued walking and could see there was one more thing I needed to discuss with God.

The previous day when I had finished “fixing” the garbage disposal, I was very excited by the possibility that I had done it right. There were even a few moments there when I thought I had!! But then I saw the leak. Failure! Suddenly I was transported back in time to my childhood, when I was the stupid, worthless, ugly kid who couldn't do anything right. 

I didn't have a dad around working on cars or fixing things around the house. I've always felt some shame that I don't know how to do many of these things. I've perfected failure pretty well in my life it seems. So now, something as little as a problematic home repair can stir up a lot of painful things inside me from the past.

I wish I could say that God spoke to me on my walk that morning and it all just instantaneously went away. It didn't. Actually, God said nothing. I just kept walking in the dark beneath the stars and eventually a few tears came. I felt broken. 

Strangely, the tears and sadness felt necessary. Maybe those places within us need to be cracked open so God can get in and heal them. Perhaps those leaky pipes were really a gift from God. It opened up a wound God cares about and wants to heal.

Yes, God, you are even in my tears. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.